Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic.
Today's contributors are ESPN Fantasy's Jim McCormick, André Snellings, Joe Kaiser and Kyle Soppe.
Jim McCormick: Parker was sidelined for the first 19 games of the season, leading to Murray getting seven starts over that stretch. In those starts, Murray averaged 8.7 PPG and 3.7 APG and didn't hit a single 3-pointer. One special thing that Murray can do is rebound like a forward, producing a defensive rebounding rate of 22.4 percent this season. Contrast that with Russell Westbrook's defensive rebounding rate over the past three seasons, which checks in at 23.9 percent.
Murray also has a forward's assist rate that hovers around 20 percent. However, he's hitting only 18.8 percent from beyond the arc -- well lower than last season's 39.1 percent -- and without efficiency at the rim, where he's hitting just 56.8 percent of shots taken from within three feet of the basket. I think Murray can help managers in deeper rotisserie-style leagues thanks to his respectable rebounding and steal rates, but I don't think we should expect much more than that from him.
André Snellings: Murray is said to be taking over for Parker as the starting point guard in San Antonio, but those labels are always fluid in the Gregg Popovich system. Outside of the main guys -- Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge -- the production from all other Spurs tends to be very inconsistent from game-to-game. It's a lot like trying to guess which offensive player (other than Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski) will put up numbers for the New England Patriots in any given week. You know they'll produce as a team, but exactly who will do it is a mystery.
Bringing it back to Murray, we've seen him start 15 times this season. In those games, he averaged 8.9 points (40.8 FG% on 9.5 attempts, 70.8 FT% on 1.6 attempts), 7.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.3 blocks and 0.0 3-pointers with 2.5 turnovers. Those make good baseline estimates for his performance as a starter moving forward. He's a bigger point guard and, thus, a startling good rebounder, though he's not a great shooter and hardly any threat from behind the arc. He could be worth rostering, especially in deeper leagues, but it seems unlikely that he's going to make a sudden leap in status, whether he's starting or not.
Joe Kaiser: Murray has the look of a young Jamal Crawford but is more of a point guard than his fellow Seattle product, and now he's unseated Parker, a future Hall of Famer. To say that he has big shoes to fill is an understatement, given what Parker has meant to the Spurs over the last 15 years. From a fantasy standpoint, Murray is appealing because of his ability to rack up steals while also being a capable scorer, rebounder and distributor.
The thing is, he's still a young player in his second season in the league and is still going to share a lot of minutes with Parker. He's also a complete non-factor from 3-point range at this stage in his career and is only a 41.4 percent career shooter. Murray is going to get a golden opportunity to show what he can do, but I'm not sure he's much more than a streaming option for the remainder of the 2017-18 season. Going into his third season under coach Gregg Popovich and, hopefully with some added range on his jumper, 2018-19 is when I expect Murray to take the next step and be a true top-100 fantasy option.
Kyle Soppe: I like Murray as a very nice fantasy asset -- eventually. His jump shot is very much a work in progress and, while he offers plus-rebounding for his position, his ability to take care of the ball is a major worry for me. He has played 20-plus minutes in three straight games yet he has more turnovers than assists over that stretch. Murray's extended role is a very real thing, as San Antonio clearly believes in him and Parker has clearly seen better days.
Even if Murray were to absorb all of Parker's scoring and passing numbers -- something I don't think will happen -- you're basically looking at Elfrid Payton, who is still available in 21.1 percent of ESPN leagues. Is that the type of ceiling worth chasing? Murray is more a player to watch than he is a "must-add" for me in standard-sized leagues.